The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the state government to give reasons why no action was taken in the month of March when around 90 unoccupied huts of migrant workers were burnt down by miscreants near the Sunday Bazar area in Bengaluru East.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice E S Indiresh observed :
"The State will have to take this seriously. In the capital city taking advantage of lockdown, somebody burning huts of poor people is the most unfortunate incident."
It has directed the state government to submit its statement of objections giving the reasons for the delayed action by June 24. The statement has to be supported by senior officer of the state government.
It has also directed the government to submit the fire brigade report prepared after the incident and to clarify if any portion of land on which the shanties were built, is a lake. The registry has been asked to implead the Bengaluru Development Authority as respondent in the matter as the land belongs to the authority.
The bench was considering a suo moto case registered on the basis of a letter-petition sent by Advocate Vaishali Hegde informing about an incident.
During the hearing, advocate Vikram Huilgol appearing for the state informed the court that the locality has around 200 to 250 huts and around 30 huts were burnt down on March 28 and on March 30, around 60 huts were set on fire. The huts were burnt when the occupants, mostly migrant workers from Kalaburagi district, had moved out before the lockdown.
The police have registered a First Information Report only on May 1, the complainant is a resident of the area whose hut was not burnt. Three persons have till now been arrested by the police and further investigation is on.
In January, the High Court had come down heavily on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike authorities and police for demolition sheds of migrant workers alleging that they were illegal Bangladeshi migrants, when they were actually Bengali-speaking Indians.
The Court had later asked the authorities to evolve a policy to rehabilitate those migrants, whose residences were demolished.